Good morning,” I say groggily to maid Hattie as she enters the room and pulls back the curtains around my bed.
“Morning m’lady,” she replies like a chirpy blackbird, bringing a pitcher of fresh water to the basin.
“I confess I do not possess the energy this morning that I should like,” I tell her as I walk toward the fresh bowl of water to wash away the night, using my Ceramic Slip Cleanser. If only it could gently remove the vexing thoughts that interrupted my sleep as well. As I towel off my face, I notice the once-luxurious cloth needs replacing. I cannot help but arch my eyebrow and sigh. What next? Will the leg on my vanity stool suddenly collapse and dump me to the floor? I gingerly lower myself onto the stool and feel relief at its sturdiness with that thought in mind.
I reach for my Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence, lifting my chin as I spritz the fine mist over my face. Instant refreshment. As it dries, my eyes wander beyond the drapes to the grounds, where myriad tasks need doing today. Another sigh. Hattie moves busily around the room, laying out clothes as I mix two pumps each of the C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum and the C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil on my left hand. I swirl the two together using my right index and middle fingers to make a potion that thoroughly hydrates my skin. As I swipe across my face and down toward the décolleté, my finger lingers as it contemplates the beautiful gem hanging there the night before. The heirloom passed through generations of our family was the subject of a post-dinner discussion with my father — whether to flog family jewels like common thieves. The idea of it makes me shiver.
Back to my morning routine. Where was I? Ah yes, Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment. Hattie catches me contemplating the bottle. “Do you recall if I used this yesterday?” I ask her.
“You did m’lady,” she informs me; I will skip it today — thrice-weekly exfoliation is ideal for my sensitive skin.
“Thank you,” I tell her. “My mind is not as focused as it should be.” I kept replaying that conversation with my father, trying to decide where costs could be cut and how to raise desperately needed funds to see the minimum upkeep around the place.
Hattie brings me back to the present: “You look glowing already — just like that.”
“Thank you. I don’t feel it,” I reply, dabbing on Auto Correct Eye Cream. “Thankfully, this will hide some of my sleeplessness.” As Hattie lays a simple day dress out, I slather on Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen. No matter how absent-minded or tired I may be, I would never forget this step; it is the reason my complexion is as unblemished as it was as a toddler in britches.
My gaze wanders to my foundation, and Hattie takes a small step forward. “M’lady, you look radiant. If you don’t mind me saying so, I do not think you need much more.”
“That is generous of you, Hattie.” I cannot help but smile at her sincerity. “Alright, then I shall forego the foundation. But I must insist on a touch of colour.” I look at my reflection in the mirror — yes, a bit of pink rouge will help enliven me. Not too much — the garish way some women wear deep colour during the day is positively appalling. But the women of London will always do something different than the refined ladies of the country, to be sure. I dab on creamy sheer raspberry lip and cheek stain, first on the cheeks, then a second dab with my middle finger, patting it into my lips.
Hattie steps forward, on cue, to style my hair. “Anything particular for today, m’Lady?” she asks.
“I’m starting to feel a bit of ennui with this bobbed cut,” I reply, exhaling when a moment of realisation occurs. “Actually, I do have an idea. I need to convince someone to do something my way, and I think all my gentility will be required in the matter.”
“Soft it is,” nods Hattie, setting to work, first with a heat-protectant spray (I insist my hair sustain as minimal damage as possible when styled). Usually, we flat iron at this point to create my smooth, crisp style. However, today Hattie spritzes through a volumising spray, which gives it a soft, naturalness.
“What do you think of that tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl clip you found in London last month?”
“Yes, perfect.” I know my adversary this afternoon needs any extra morsel of delicacy I can muster. As Hattie works, I go over my strategy for speaking with Mr. Osbourne about the terms of his lease. He will not be easily persuaded but he has to be; the future of our estate could possibly be in his dirt-stained hands.
Hattie places the ornate clip in the hair, pulling it softly off the face, and uses hairspray to secure the look.
I review her handiwork: “Not bad,” and meet Hattie’s eyes with a smile.
She helps me put on a Donegal tweed dress, a sensible choice for the days’ business. As she does up the buttons, I remark that we will go simple with jewellery: “Just some pearl studs for the earrings today. We shall save the brooch I usually wear for another time.”
“And I have prepared the navy velvet for this evening, m’lady. I thought we might pair it with the delicate sapphires.”
“Heavens. I had forgotten tonight’s dinner — it completely skipped my mind. You must think me a right dolt, Hattie. Yes, the velvet and sapphires. Stunning combination. Thank you, Hattie. What would I do without you?”
I return to the pottles and bottles of my vanity. I choose a rich hand cream to slather on my hands and replace my wedding ring. That is one piece of jewellery we will never flog. I step to the full-length mirror and take a final look. I give a decisive nod and feel ready to tackle the day.
In celebration of our latest collaboration, get all the products in this story in one convenient set with the Sunday Riley x Downton Abbey: A New Era Wake Up With Me Complete Morning Routine . No maid required.